Monday, 23 March 2015

Dungeon Crawl - Part 10

Reven turned the sword over in his hands. There was no glimmer of light from the blade. The only colour present on it was a blood drop shaped ruby set into it's pommel which was apt considering the appetite for blood the sword seemed to have. Cruel arced spikes sat at the bottom of the blade above the fanged cross guard. Wherever this sword came from it was expertly made and light as a feather considering its size. The blade widened before the tip which would give it added momentum when swung. Reven stroked the metal of the sword with his hand and a name came unbidden into his mind; Blood Thirster. Reven took some practice swings and marvelled at how easily he had adapted to the blade. He ran through effortless swings and rapid ripostes before slipping the blade into his belt. He discarded his old scabbard and used the bindings from it around his chest to try and close up the rent in his armour that the dark knight had caused.

Borengar sat a few yards away tying a makeshift bandage around his head to stem the bleeding from an ugly gash he had received from his impact against the wall. The dwarf climbed to his feet and wincing placed his helmet on his head. The dwarfs face was already criss-crossed with scars from old battles and now crusted blood dried in the healed wounds. 'We best get moving' his said as he adjusted his helm. 'Aye' Reven replied snatching a torch from the wall.

They headed down a corridor at the back of the room deciding to leave the chest where is sat, not wishing to tamper with what was obviously a powerful arcane object. Footsteps in the detritus of the passage showed the path of Krassner's party. Not long after they had entered they came across the first dead body. Its apparel identified it as one of Krassner's mercenaries but the body was little more than a dessicated husk. It could have been lying there for decades. 'Foul magic is afoot I fear' said Borengar as he nudged the corpse. Its skin crumpled like parchment as it slumped to the side. Reven indicated a slash in the man's armour, 'This was the sword my friend. It sucked him dry. Tis' a drinker of blood and a taker of heads.' Borengar eyed the blade as Reven's hip, 'Keep the bloody thing away from me then.' The dwarf stomped off up the corridor muttering to himself, 'Foul blade.....foul deeds....foul shit hole of a dungeon...' Reven smiled as he followed the dwarf, he found comfort in the dwarf's discontent. His friend could always be relied upon to express his displeasure in a most colourful manner.

The corridor changed for the first time since they had entered the ruins. Doors started appearing set back into the walls. Here the hallways were lit by torches once again and there was an unmistakable stench in the air which reminded Reven of stale sweat. The job of tracking Krassner's party grew harder as the parties footprints mingled with other smaller ones. 'It seems it wasn't just our metal clad friend that inhabits this place' Borengar said as he crouched to examine the prints. 'Goblins if I'm not mistaken, would explain the stench too.' Reven drew his new sword from his belt in response to his friends words. 'Are you sure?' he enquired. 'I'm certain' Borengar said confidently, 'Dwarves and goblin's both like to be out of the sun and many times vie for the same dwelling. It isn't the first time I've seen tracks such as these.' Reven looked around, 'I wonder if Krassner noticed? He's leading his men into trouble.' The dwarf gave a derisive snort, 'Bloody wizard doesn't care about those men. They are little more than a shield of flesh to soak up the punishment inflicted by the inhabitants of this cursed dungeon. Greed and power drive that one, not the sanctity of life.' Reven nodded, 'Let's get after him then. I would prefer he was in one piece when we find him.'

The pair were more cautious in their travels as they made their way down the passages. In this section of the ruins the corridors met a junctions regularly and it became evident that this part of the old fortress would have been living quarters. Sounds drifted down some of the corridors confirming their suspicions that they were not alone in this place. The smell of the goblins grew stronger the further they travelled and both Reven and Borengar were on edge as they tried to keep pace with Krassner and his mercenaries. 

It wasn't long before the pair encountered their first goblins. As they came to a cross section of corridor they could here a guttural exchange in a language Reven didn't understand. He pressed himself flat against a wall and peered carefully round the corner. He could see two goblins facing each other and apparently arguing over a corpse that lay at their feet. Reven could see it was one of Krassner's men but he could discern what it was the pair were arguing about. They were hideous in appearance. Shorter than the average man and thin. Their dark skin had a green hue to it and they were dressed in rags with saw toothed swords dangling from crudely made belts. Their fanged mouths were lined with thin black lips and large pointed ears sprouted from their bald heads. The argument between the two became more heated as they started to push and pull each other. Fists started to fly and the pair fell to the floor in a frenzy. Reven continued watching as a door opened beside where the goblins scuffled and a larger greenskin entered the fray. This one wasn't taller than the other two but he sported thickly muscled arms and was much broader. He drew a huge cleaver from where it rested on his back as he pulled the brawling duo apart. Both of the warring goblins shuffled backward away from the newcomer in obvious fear. The muscled brute swung down at the corpse splitting it from groin to crown before kicking the pieces at the humbled pair. It barked something at them in a low growl before returning from whence it came slamming a door behind it. The goblin pair leapt up with glee in their eyes as they dragged the respective parts of the dead mercenary toward them. As one they sunk their mouths in to the still warm meat of the man's flesh and stared devouring him. Now it was obvious what they were arguing about; dinner! Reven unhooked his bow from his back and nocked an arrow. Borengar drew his dagger and held before him blade first then nodded in readiness. Man and dwarf broke cover at the same time. Borengar sent his blade flying forward as Reven loosed his arrow. The goblins didn't have time to react. Reven's bow shot had punched straight through one of the fiends temple killing it instantly. Borengar's thrown dagger caught the other in the throat and he scrabbled uselessly in the filth of the floor in his death throes. Borengar gained ground on the goblin quickly, wrenching his blade sideways out of the things throat ending any further struggles. Reven motioned to a door a little further up the corridor and once they had found the room beyond it empty they hid the deceased goblins in its gloom. Reven wiped the black goblin blood from his recovered arrow before returning it to his quiver. They left the bisected corpse of the mercenary where it lay not  wanting to disturb too much and leave obvious signs to their passing. 

With the dead goblins stashed Borengar put his ear to the door that 'muscles', as he had named him, went through. Shaking his head at Reven to indicate he couldn't hear anything, he lifted the latch on the door and moved inside. They entered what must have once been some sort of feasting hall. The smashed up remnants of a long table lay in the middle of the room and crumbling wooden benches had been thrown against the back wall. a path had been cleared through the remains of the furniture that lead to another door at the far end of the room. This door was open and the pair navigated through it quickly finding a downward sloping passageway beyond. They continued in silence staying close to the wall fearful of being discovered. They made their way into a kitchen at the bottom of the passage. Like the rest of the ruins it didn't appear to have been used as it should have been for a long time but icons had been daubed on the walls with either blood or excrement. Reven couldn't tell which and didn't feel inclined to investigate further. Borengar moved to hole that had been made in the wall, the bricks had been knocked out and lay strewn around the entrance. Beyond the hole was another passage but this one was not man made. Natural rock glistened with moisture and mossy vegetation. The way was lit by braziers and torches. 'What do the wall paintings mean?' Reven asked as he looked over his friends shoulder. 'That open ended triangle is supposed to be a mouth. The round thing is a rock. It's a warning; these goblins belong to the Rockbiter Clan', Reven nodded as Borengar disappeared into the hole in the wall. Reven followed the dwarf and they descended further still into twisting tunnels. A trickle of water accompanied them as they went as they took their dungeon crawl further underground. 

Ush'gar waved the talismans around his neck in the face of the captives. He smiled to himself. These flesh bags had made a grave error when they had tried to travel through Rockbiter territory. The one in the fancy robes stared at him resolutely, he was a magic user like Ush'gar. His meat would be all the sweeter after marinading in the raw magical power that coursed through his restrained body. Ush'gar's warriors had done him proud. They had sprung their trap and restrained the mage with bonds of silence. Enscorcelled manacles that prevent the wearers magic use. He stood atop a large rock with the bound prisoners in front of him. At the foot of the rock were hundreds of his loyal followers, chanting and braying for blood and meat. Ush'gar was a gifted leader though. He knew he needed to play this out as long as he could, soaking up the adoration of his troops and whipping them into a fervour before spilling the blood of these flesh bags. He danced and chanted in front of the bound men, twirling on one foot and stabbing out with his gnarled staff. He drew magic energies into him adding to his menace and drawing groans from the remaining mercenaries as the gathering forces made them feel sick. The shaman stopped abruptly and a hush fell over the gathered greenskins. He drew a thin, sharp edged blade from his black robes and held it aloft. He smiled as he made his way toward the magician and to his surprise he saw the wizard smile back. Forgetting the pomp and ceremony the shamans arms fell to his side. In broken form of human speech he addressed the orange robed man, 'Why you smile fool? You die now!'. The man laughed back mirthlessly. 'It is not my death we'll be seeing today but yours goblin scum'. A look of consternation creased the goblins face. The man lent forward as far as his bonds would allow him and smiling still angled his eyes to the back of the cave, 'About time you showed up' he shouted past the surprised goblin shaman.

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